In the Kitchen with Tarts and Cakes

The Kitchn's Cranberry Tart

After the flurry of activites surrounding the little CEO's second appearance on this show we finally were able to get in the kitchen and bake some holiday treats. There were lots of cookies and cinnamon rolls made and eaten and these two desserts made an appearance on Christmas day.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Cajeta Frosting

We also are crazy blessed with some really amazing friends and have had the chance to share in a Christmas morning brunch hosted by one amazing family.

I hope you had a Christmas overflowing with gratitude, love and awe.

Dear Santa...

Last year at this time, as many of you probably know, my husband lost his pharmaceutical job unexpectedly.  12 months later he is still job hunting although he certainly hasn't been "unemployed" this year. We opened a bakery, our son's company has grown and he has come to appreciate the duties of maintaining the home (and kids) at a whole new level ~smile

With the job gone, we decided to return the gifts we had bought for one another last Christmas. It was the responsible "adult" thing to do. But as I shared about here, Christmas morning was full of surprises and really I can't remember a more special Christmas than that one...which also included this amazing jewelry box from my parents.

When opened it plays "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music. I keep the few pieces of jewelry I own ~ all things from Mike and the boys...along with a couple of sweet notes.

I come into this season with a new level of thankfulness to God, who has sustained our family of 5 this year.
I am so thankful for the friends and family that have sustained us mentally, emotionally and creatively. We have had the opportunity to glean so much wisdom and insight from them during this taxing journey.
Some sweet gifts from afar came in the mail this week, which are a perfect reminder for us of just how loved and cared for we are~

Mike's sweet aunt and uncle in Ohio sent these amazing little ornaments with the family's name on them. They go perfectly with our rustic "handmade" tree.

And my sweet sister and her family sent us a box of goodies, filled with gifts and sweet treats. I came downstairs to see that Canaan had already artfully arranged the platter and wanted to me to snap a picture. So the credits for art direction go to; Canaan Smith.

And finally; my list to Santa. It isn't too large of a request, in my book. Mike thinks otherwise.

A new chicken coop....just like this. (see, I told you...not too large of a request ;)
I saw this picture in the magazine, Where Women Cook, and had to snap a photo. Dreamy!!!!! I think if the elves put their minds to it, they could whip this up in 3 days, don't you think?

This Angora rabbit. Ok...maybe not this one in particular (I'm sure he lives with a nice family) but one of his siblings? I think a little furry monster like this would make a perfect addition to our family. Plus the beautiful angora I could spin??? Imagine! If you know of where I could get one of these furry fellow...please let Santa know ( and by the way, Mike is not Santa. Mike would say "no" to this don't tell him about this list, thanks.)

What's on your list this year?

Catching Up...and Taco Soup

Just to catch you up:

- The last know that sweet nearly 2 year old with curly blonde hair? Yep..that one. He's giving us a run for our money in that whole sanity department. I am not sure Mike or I will make it out on the other side.

- The second know, that other tall, blonde one wearing skateboarding clothes? Yep...that one. He carved our wooden front door with the most lovely cat scratch pattern yesterday trying to take off the pumpkin stickers he had decorated it with a couple of months ago. "A" for effort. "F" for execution.

- The first know, that tall, blonde one? Yep...that one. I just bought him his first pair of shoes in the mens department. That took this mama much by surprise and I may or may not have had welled up with a tear or two when no one was looking.
**Time. Please slow down. Thank you.

- There was another Suze Orman appearance this week. See that here (at about the 38 minute mark)

- There were hundreds of more bags to ship this week thanks to that sweet follow up from Suze.

- We are now in month 12 of the layoff. Crazy. More about that in another post.

- I write...alot nowadays. Which is why this blog doesn't get nearly the attention is should. But I'm ok with that, if you are.

Now....onto Taco Soup. This is one of those elusive recipes that until recently I hadn't been able to reign in. I love taco soup! Atleast I thought I did. But recipe after recipe was letting me down and making me doubt my fondness for it. Until this easy peasy recipe from an old Gooseberry Patch cookbook jumped off the page at me.
Its perfect and easy and a nice change of pace from the standard thick chili my family likes.

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 15oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed
2 c. water
15 oz can corn, drained (I used frozen)
15 oz can tomato sauce (I used canned petite diced tomatoes)
12 oz bottle green taco sauce
4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 oz package taco seasoning mix (I used low sodium)

Brown beef, onion and garlic in large skillet. Drain. In a slow cooker, combine beef mixture and all remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on high 1 hour (I cooked on low for 4-5 hours).
Serves 8-10.

The Gift of Bread

The most lovely box came in the mail on Friday from the famed Philadelphia restaurant, City Tavern.

I love "foodie" gifts this time of year ~ ok... in actuality I love foodie gifts all year long. But this time of year gifts of sweet food are even more special.
You can order a set of 3 amazing City Tavern breads here. The Pineapple bread with Jamacian Rum is scary good. Like, 'I-need-to-hide-this-from-myself-so-I-can-wear-jeans-next-week' good.

Saying Goodbye

An unexpected trip back to the mountains this week to say final goodbyes to Mike's grandmother. Fess, her older brother (and who I previously shared about here) is the last remaining sibling. All five brothers and sisters; Richmond, Maxie, Fess, Lona and Dora, grew up in this holler and four of them stayed their entire lives. It tugs at my heart to see our oldest generation leaving Earth. Since I was a little girl I have had a soft spot for their wisdom and walks down memory lane.
As hard as saying goodbye is, as always, it gives me a renewed perspective for life, the legacy I hope to leave behind and the purpose in it all.

Pound Cakes and Pounding Headaches

I wouldn't put this weekend on the top of the list for 'most happy', 'most peaceful', or 'fondest family moments'. Both Mike and I climbed into bed last night and said a resounding, "I'm glad that weekend is over".
Lots of sibling bickering, lots of whining, lots of 'go to your room' followed by foot stomping up the stairs followed with little ears getting many heart to heart talks from us was exhausting. And I will say again this morning, I'm glad that weekend is over~
But with all of the frustration (for all of us) there were some glimmers of holiday joy (for all of us).

I finally started in on some holiday baking~
Even Ezra took back to the kitchen after a long hiatus.

I also got pretty far along on that list of "gifts to make"

And I took a Sabbath day...(a Sabbath from housework and cooking, not parenting...the nanny called in sick - (I joke ;)

I made two loaves of pound cake this weekend. One for our family and one for our next door neighbors. The recipe comes from Gooseberry Patch and is about as simple as a pound cake recipe gets.
Genuine, Truly Old Fashioned Pound Cake
(Gooseberry Patch Vol.2, Pg 118)

3 C. Flour                                        3 c. powdered sugar
1 t. baking powder                          2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. nutmeg                                   5 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt                                     3/4 c. half and half
1 1/2 c. butter

1. Grease and coat with granulated sugar two 8" loaf pans or a 10" fluted tube pan.
2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3. Cream together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mixture should be light and fluffy.
5. Mix in half of the flour mixture until smooth. Blend in half and half. Beat in remaining dry ingredients until smooth.
6. Pour cake batter into pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 75 minutes (depending on the pan size) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 10 minutes before removing.

Making A List...Checking It Twice

I am a list maker by nature. Grocery lists, to-do lists, honey-do lists, lists of goals...and this time of year, Christmas gift lists. I have many floating around right now. There is the "to make" list, and the "to buy" list and the others somewhere in between.

One project was started a few weeks back. I shared this photo with you, remember?

Well that project is coming along beautifully and I am so excited about some packages that will be heading out the door in the coming days to girlfriends around the country that have encouraged, loved, challenged and held me up this year.

2011 has been a doozy at The Smith Homestead. A one year layoff (and still going). Didn't see that coming. Not only sustaining but thriving this year...didn't see that coming either. I promise to sit down someday soon, with a big mug of coffee and a slow afternoon to share with you what has happened this year. It was one for the story books.

But back to we are just a couple of weeks out from the 'big day' and I am still finding inspiration and ideas~ I'm sure you are too...

Ninja's vs. Pirates? This set has got to be one of the best things I've run across in recent memory. Of course with a house full of boys and a recent visit to a pirate museum I think something like this would knock their socks off...(and put a serious dent in the mid-layoff holiday budget...but that's besides the point ;)

Goosegrease on Etsy made this lovely set

And as for wrapping this year's gifts, I love this idea. We are all about brown kraft paper in this house and I am always looking for new ways to spiff it up.

And you better believe I will be on the hunt for some vintage globes at the thrift store this year. This family of snowmen definitely needs to make an appearance in our home next year, don't you agree?

Don't forget there is lots of holiday inspiration here at the blog. You can find some of it here and here and here. And there are loads of ideas up there in the Navigation Bar.

Enough blogging for one lists await!

Happy Thursday~

All Things Merry & Bright

Saturday was a very festive day here at The Smith Homestead~
We finally decorated the house...a bit late in the season for us but the trip down South threw us off a bit this year.
After the house was filled with the sounds of Frank Sinatra Christmas, smells of bacon and pancakes and all things were 'merry and bright' and we headed out to one of our favorite holiday events~ the holiday open house at this and this (they are beside each other) amazing place in Lexington.

It was our little entrepreneur's third year handing out delicious samples of his 'mallows and meeting customers. Coffee Times has been an amazing cheerleader of his company from day one~

Here are some pics from the night. These gals (owners, Teri and Kathryne) know how to pull together a store. The window and floor displays in both the coffee house and vintage shop are down right gorgeous.

And aside from giving Barney's in NYC a run for their money in the decorating department, these gals are incredible businesswomen. Teri started Coffee Times 30 years ago...when she was 19!! (Which is pretty hard to believe since she only looks 28.) Teri and Kathryne (who also looks 28, but has 2 grown sons....ummm where is this fountain of youth, ladies??) teamed up to start Street Scene, the vintage store, which carries some really incredible local handmade wares too. I love rubbing shoulders with these smart ladies ~

The day was so festive and of course we are always just continually blown away by Canaan and his business. Which, by the way, will be re-appearing on The Suze Orman Show again on December 17th. His previous segment was chosen as one of her favorites of 2011. Crazy! Amazing!!

**And without further ado...the winner of the adorable Cradle Will Rock dress (according to is ....Angie Aflord. Congrats Angie!! Just send me an email ( with your contact info and shipping info and I'll get it to you~